Abacavir (Molecule of the Month for May 2007)
Ziagen, Trizivir, Kivexa, Epzicom
Abacavir (ABC) is the most powerful nucleoside analog reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NARTI) used to treat HIV and AIDS. Viral strains that are resistant to zidovudine (AZT) or lamivudine (3TC) are generally sensitive to abacavir. When HIV infects a cell, reverse transcriptase copies the viral single stranded RNA genome into a double-stranded viral DNA. The viral DNA is then integrated into the host chromosomal DNA which then allows host cellular processes, such as transcription and translation to reproduce the virus. RTIs block reverse transcriptase's enzymatic function and prevent completion of synthesis of the double-stranded viral DNA thus preventing HIV from multiplying.
It has been well tolerated; its main side effect being hypersensitivity reactions, which can be dangerous or even (in some rare cases) fatal. Fortunately, genetic testing can indicate beforehand whether an individual will be hypersensitive; over 90% of patients can safely take abacavir.
Abacavir was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 18, 1998 and is thus the fifteenth approved antiretroviral drug in the United States
Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)
Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for May 2007 )